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COVID-19 vaccine could be rolled out this year, says lead developer
21 July 2020, 10:19 AM

The University of Oxford’s possible COVID-19 vaccine could be rolled out by the end of the year, but there is no certainty that will happen, the lead developer of the vaccine said on Tuesday.

The experimental vaccine has been licensed to AstraZeneca.

It produced an immune response in early-stage clinical trials, data showed on Monday, preserving hopes it could be in use by the end of the year.

“The end of the year target for getting vaccine rollout, it’s a possibility but there’s absolutely no certainty about that because we need three things to happen,” Sarah Gilbert told BBC Radio, saying it needed to be shown to work in late stage trials, there needed to be large quantities manufactured and regulators had to agree quickly to licence it for emergency use.

“All of these three things have to happen and come together before we can start seeing large numbers of people vaccinated.”

The Oxford scientists had eyed a million doses of the potential vaccine to be produced by September.

Although the deal with AstraZeneca has provided manufacturing capacity to do that, the lower prevalence of the novel coronavirus in Britain has complicated the process of proving its efficacy.

Late-stage trials are under way in Brazil and South Africa and are due to start in the United States.

“The crucial thing is that we get enough people exposed to the virus who’ve also had the vaccine that we can actually get some proper adjudication of whether it prevents the disease and remains safe,” John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford, told BBC Radio.

“We’re hopeful, particularly given the low incident rates in the UK that the individuals recruited in Brazil and South Africa will ultimately be able to provide us with the data.”

There are no approved vaccines for COVID-19, but the World Health Organization has said AstraZeneca’s shot is one of the leading candidates.

In the video below, is a discussion on AstraZeneca developed vaccine:

Cedrick Frolick
National Assembly Chairperson Cedric Frolick tests positive for COVID-19
21 July 2020, 6:33 AM

National Assembly House Chairperson Cedric Frolick is the latest Parliamentarian to test positive for the coronavirus.

In a statement, Parliament says Frolick has gone into isolation and will be working from home during this period.

The news follows shortly after the Presidency announced that Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe was admitted to hospital on Monday after he tested positive for the virus last week.

In a statement, Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mtembu says Mantashe was admitted to hospital on the advice of his family doctor for better medical attention and monitoring.

Mantashe’s wife Nolwandle who also tested positive will continue to self-isolate at their home.

The Presiding Officers of Parliament, led by National Assembly Speaker have wished Mantashe and Frolick a speedy recovery.

Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi and Deputy Social Development Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu are among high profile politicians who are recovering from COVID-19.

Over the weekend, the Presiding Officers of Parliament reiterated the call for South Africans to adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols.

The call followed the death of ANC MP, Martha Mmola, due to a COVID-19 related illness.

More than 5 000 South Africans have succumbed to the virus and over 370 000 others are recuperating from it.

Below are the latest COVID-19 statistics in SA:

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Mkhize makes urgent appeal as COVID-19 cases continue to surge
18 July 2020, 11:09 PM

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has made an “urgent appeal” to South Africans to take the coronavirus seriously as the number of infections continue to rise in the country.

The Ministry has announced 13 285 fresh COVID-19 infections, pushing the number of cases to 350 879.

The Health Department has also confirmed 144 new fatalities – which has taken the death toll to 4 948.

Mkhize says this is concerning. He says government has done all it could to contain the spread, but can’t win the battle alone.

“We are extremely concerned that fatigue seems to have set in and South Africans are letting down their guard at a time when the spread of infection is is surging. We see poor or no social distancing in communities. Masks are being abandoned or not worn properly and there is laxity setting in around the frequent hand-washing,” he says.

The Minister warns that this will have a direct influence in the rise in COVID-19 infections in the next two weeks. He is appealing to South Africans to admonish those who refuse to adhere to the regulations in place aimed at limiting the spread of the virus.

More than 180 000 South Africans have beaten the virus and more than 2 million tests have been conducted so far.

In the video below, Mkhize announces new track and tracing technology for COVID-19:

Global COVID-19 deaths pass the 600 000 mark
18 July 2020, 9:51 PM

The number of global deaths from COVID 19 has topped 600 000. More than 601 600 deaths have been confirmed.

More than 14 million people have tested positive for the coronavirus – which causes the disease called COVID-19.

Over 8.5 million people worldwide have recovered from the coronavirus.

South Africa has the sixth highest number of infections at over 330 000. It, however, ranks 22nd when it comes to total recorded COVID 19 deaths, according to the Worldometers website.

Below is the global wrap of COVID-19 infections:

John Lewis
White House, Capitol Hill flags fly at half-staff in honour of John Lewis
18 July 2020, 9:33 PM

Flags at the White House and on Capitol Hill in Washington in the US have been lowered to half-staff following the death of Congressman John Lewis – an icon of the civil rights movement and one of America’s heroes. He passed away Friday at the age of 80 after announcing in December that he had stage-four pancreatic cancer.

The news was confirmed by House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi described the former Congressman as a titan of the civil rights movement whose goodness, faith and bravery transformed the nation from his determination in the fight against discrimination and the moral leadership he brought to Congress for more than 30 years as representative from Atlanta Georgia.

Former US ambassador to SA, Patrick Gaspard says he feels blessed to have known Lewis and worked with him.

“He was a personal friend, he was a mentor. He was someone that I had the good privilege, the blessing to have known. John Lewis put his kind and gentle hand on my shoulder, steered me right. He’s always say remember, we have an obligation never to stoop as low as the enemies of freedom, the enemies of justice, the enemies of democracy and we had to hold ourselves with the grace and dignity that would push back against their brutality and at the end that love would win out.”

In the video below, Dr David Molapo pays tribute to Lewis:

Along with Martin Luther King `Jr, he was an organiser of the March on Washington in 1963, regarded as a seminal moment that led to voting rights for black people in 1965. He was arrested, beaten and jailed for challenging Jim Crow laws and became a national figure more than more than 50 years ago.

Former President Barack Obama -who awarded Lewis the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 – called him exceptional, and a man who will continue, even in passing, to serve as a beacon in the journey towards a more perfect union.

In the video below, Ambassador Gaspard speaks about Lewis’ legacy:

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